Sunday, July 31, 2005

Nucular stuff

Hey. I'm just following in the footsteps of our Learned President. And what's the problem with a bunch of college students wearing flip-flops to the White House? If Dubya can wear cowboy boots, I think flip-flops are eminently proper.

I digress. Things are heating up in Iran. Or, more accurately, in the EU over Iran. I suspect things will be heating up here shortly, as well. Iran has declared that it will recommence converting raw uranium. Naturally, this has the EU's shorts all tied up in knots. No one's terribly excited about Iran creating products that could possibly lead to nuclear weapons, despite its protestations otherwise. Iran's track record on honesty in this area is a bit thin.

From an intellectual standpoint (and I can pretend I have one), I don't fully grasp the argument that some countries are allowed to have nuclear weapons and some are not. Who died and made US king? Or any of the other countries who have them and want to deny them to others?

I know. It's too dangerous to have so many countries with this capability, so we must limit it. Dumb argument. If it's too dangerous to have so many, or even some, countries with this capability, then no one should have it. The entire earth should play fair and get rid of them all. If you don't bring enough to share with everyone, or you aren't willing to share, then you have to put your toys away.

Simplistic argument, perhaps. But I don't see where being the bully of the world is getting us--or the EU. I'd love to think we are all imposing civility on the world. But we haven't been terribly civil ourselves, lately. So I'm missing the part where we then get to impose our rules on civility on others.

If the US and the EU want to tell other nations what to do, perhaps we should all clean house first. Stop torturing people in prison camps, hold fair elections (even in Florida), clean up the death penalty in Texas, stop outing our CIA agents, don't use Homeland Security bills as pork barrels . . . .

Spent most of the day painting my living room. Frosted Cafe. Nice walls. Sore arms. Off to bed.

Until tomorrow,

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Can't make nobody happy

Hillary can't, that is. Seems like there is no possible move on the boardgame of politics she can make without someone screaming their fool head off about it. With conservatives and Republicans, the source of distaste and distrust is obvious. She's not conservative nor Republican and she's married to Bill Clinton.

But the poor woman can't even make Democrats happy. The latest horrible move on her part? She's supposedly moved to the center on a number of issues. And she appears to be reframing herself. Now, it's apparently acceptable for the Democratic Party to reframe itself so that it appears to be closer to the center.
George Lakoff can lead us all in a quest to use language that fits our values so that the discussion is about values that matter to most people. But apparently it's not ok for Hillary to do so.

Look at Hillary's take on abortion. In January, she said that abortion is "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women." She didn't suddenly become anti-abortion. She didn't throw her arms around abortion clinic bombers. She didn't change her stance on abortion at all. She articulated what many Americans feel about abortion.

She articulated what I feel. I'm strongly pro-choice. No one should legislate me into being a mother, should my choice of birth control fail at age 43. No one should legislate anyone into being a mother. Do I feel that an 8 week old fetus, embryo, whatever is a person? Yes. No. Maybe. I think it's far closer to a cluster of cells than to a person. And if I have to weigh that cluster of cell's right to life versus a mother's right to choose whether or not to give birth to that cluster, I support the mother's right to choose.

Hilary's phrase rings true to me, too. Some women I know who've had abortions viewed it quite matter of factly as a cluster of cells and did not feel sadness. And some women I know who've had abortions viewed it quite emotionally as a baby and felt a tremendous sense of loss. As much as it would make pro-choice folks lives easier to say an abortion is purely a dispassionate medical procedure, real life seems different, for some.

I'm struck by this NY Times article about Hillary. "On abortion, she can calibrate the tone and nuance of her remarks. In 2000, she promised abortion rights supporters that she would be second to none as an ally, and in 2005 she said she looked forward to the day when abortions take place 'only in very rare circumstances.'"

OK. I get that she's speaking to different audiences differently. What a surprise; she's a politician. But is she SAYING anything different? And are her messages antithetical to one another? I don't think so. I absolutely support the right to an abortion. And I absolutely hope that someday, abortions will rarely take place. I don't see why imagining a world in which women get pregnant only when they want to and only in situations in which they want to is a problem. Sounds like common ground to me. And common sense, too.

You go, Hillary.

Until tomorrow,

Friday, July 29, 2005


Or would you punctuate that "two'fer"? I dunno.

Onefer. What's the deal with Israel discriminating against the Palestinians? Those of you who are perhaps better informed might ask, um, Liz, what planet have you been inhabiting, low these many years? Planet Oblivion, obviously.

But we digress. How, how, how can a people so universally trod upon and discriminated against pass laws like the Civil Wrongs/Civil Torts (Liability of the State) Law and the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law? According to Amnesty International (that's my source for all of this, as no one else seems to be covering it that I can find), under the former law,
Palestinians (most assuredly not Jews, though) in the West Bank and Gaza strip have been stripped of their ability to claim compensation from the Israeli government in cases of death, injury or property damage inflicted on them by Israeli armed forces.

So the Israeli army can run roughshod over these Palestinians and there will be no legal recourse, no recompense, no nothing if they do so?

Even more disturbing, though is the Citizenship and Entry into Israel law. This one "bars family unification for Israelis who are married to Palestinian women aged under 25 and to Palestinian men aged under 35" according to AI. Why? "Instead of making it easier for Palestinians who want to get citizenship, we should make the process much more difficult, in order to guarantee Israel's security and a Jewish majority in Israel," said Netanyahu. Sharon chimed in with another statement about the importance of preserving the Jewish nature of Israel.

Guarantee a Jewish majority in Israel. Boy, this kind of rhetoric sounds really familiar. I just can't quite recall in which country it was previously used. WWII Germany does come to mind, though.

Twofer. There's a fabulous op-ed in the NYT today about French Family Values. Boils down to less work time, less money, better health care, better education, and more time with your family. Would you like some freedom fries with your crow, Republicans?

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Liz's Weight Loss Tips

Being well-lubricated as I am, having been plied with coconut rum by some neighbors who shall remain nameless, I am now ready to share my tips regarding my gigantic weight loss. Having now lost the rough equivalent of a chihuahua (11 lbs and counting), it seems only fair that I share my insights with others around me.

  1. Do not diet. Diets are evil and wrong. Think about it, people. What happens when you're on a diet? You think about food night and day. You obsess. Food becomes even more important than it was when you were fat and happy. How can this be healthy? If you want to lose weight, you must think about food less, not more. To do this, you must be full of food.
  2. Always eat until you are full. Not full like wanting to throw up, as though you are a toga-wearing frat boy. But full like "Oh, wow. My stomach is comfortably filled with food and I'm not suffering from acid reflux. This must be what being full is like".
  3. Pay attention to the food you are eating. It is your friend, after all. It's keeping you company on hot summer nights when the reruns rerun. It's placating you during messy arguments with your spouse. It's far more trustworthy than your boss. So give it the same respect you give them. Look it right between the eyes when you eat it. Consider tasting it as it floats down your gullet. Who knows? You might enjoy it.
  4. Eat one piece at a time. Mostly because I can't stand watching you cram food into your mouth. It's unsightly to see your cheeks bulge and your food seep through that gap between your front teeth. But partly because it's a long way from your stomach to your brain. And, particularly if your brain is a bit sluggish--and whose isn't by the end of July?--you need a bit of time for the STOP EATING OR YOU'LL TURN INTO A TOGA-WEARING FRAT BOY message to get through.
  5. Exercise. Think you're going to lose weight with a couple of walks around the block? Think again, hon. All you're going to lose are your littlest children, if you walk fast enough. While that might be sanity-saving, it is not a weightloss strategy. To lose weight, you must sweat.
  6. Sweat. I repeat: You must sweat. A lot. Do you think Oprah lost all of her weight by glowing for 20 minutes 3 times a week? Think Brad Pitt got cut by lifting cute little five pounds weights he found in Target? Think again. I'm working out 5 times a week, 30 minutes a day, and I'm losing 3 (three) frigging pounds a MONTH. Let me be clear. I am sweating like a pig, out there on my little roller skis. My heart rate is 150ish. And I'm losing 3 (three) frigging pounds a MONTH. So don't bother trying to lose weight if you're not going to sweat. Might as well pull up a chair to the frig and dig in, because the fat is not going to come off. Fine with me. Hey. No skin off my nose. I was fat and happy for years, until my cholesterol count went way above 200 . . . .
  7. Lose the fat and happy pills. Having been a Zoloft girl for many years, I knew my fat and happy pills, the ones that kept me from obsessing about every possible anxiety-producing event that could happen to anyone I know, were also keeping me from losing weight. There's a reason they call them fat and happy pills, you know. So, now I'm taking Slightly Thinner and Only Moderately Anxious Pills. Lexapro enables me to release my fat. True, I am just a touch more anxious. A tad. A bit. Perhaps I obsess more over details. Maybe, particularly around my period, I lose sleep worrying about what my neighbors think. About everything I've done since we bought this house 13 years ago. But what's moderate anxiety once a month compared to the loss of a chihuahua? I may need to ponder this point a bit more.
  8. Hypnosis. Go see a hypnotist. It's a blast. Mine was great. Hypnosis was incredibly relaxing--like a massage with no one touching you. Which, if it's around your period and you're feeling incredibly anxious is a really good thing. And it's pricey. Which is good. Because what better motivation for really getting serious about losing weight than the investment of a couple hundred bucks in a therapy that's a bit unusual so you want it to work so you don't look like a total idiot for trying it?

I hope you all find these weight loss tips as useful as I have. Clearly, they've been working miracles for me. Just ask my chihuahua.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

This and That

This . . . did you hear about this new pact that's being developed between those nation environmental bad boys, the US and Australia? A new climate plan, even better, than Kyoto. Part of the spin for those two countries in refusing to sign onto Kyoto was that developing nations, like India and China, were not included in that pact. And, of course, the incredible damage the dynamic duo would sustain monetarily.

Australia's Environment Minister Ian Campbell announced that this pact would be "even better" than Kyoto, as the new pact aims to reduce emissions by 50%, rather than the Kyoto 40%. And guess how they'd do that? By developing new technologies which the dynamic duo would sell to the lesser nations, thus killing two birds with one stone.

Why am I just a touch skeptical about this approach?

That . . . How did I miss that Tom DeLay is a member of the Christian Zionists, one of those freaky End-Time sects? Did you know these lunatics believe that the Iraq war is a "gateway to the Apocalypse"? What was I doing in 2002, that I missed all of this? What kind of nutcases are running this nuthouse, anyway?

Apparently the fundamentally Fundamentalists believe there's no reason to fret about our lil ole planet and its environment because we're all going to hell in a handbasket shortly, so why bother? Bill Moyers says it best:
"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal."

This . . . (speaking of the environment) did you know CAFTA is a threat to the environment? Under CAFTA, corporations operating in the member countries (US and 7 Central American countries) can sue taxpayers if a country's environmental laws cut down on their profits. Just what the developing nations down in Central America needs, more environmental pressure on their fragile regions. The Sierra Club has some great information about this.

That . . . also from Gristmill, did you know that our friend DeLay has oh so surreptitiously inserted a $1.5 BILLION giftie to the oil industry? I think it's just swell that the American taxpayers will be subsidizing such a worthwhile corporate entity. And I think it's peachy the way Tom takes care of his own. I'm touched, really, at his thoughtfulness toward others.

Annie just saw "War of the Worlds" this evening. And she thinks she'll have trouble sleeping?

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Women in Iraq

Remember Laura Bush embracing Afghan women, having made a special trip there this spring to celebrate how far women's rights have come in that region? Remember how she didn't visit Iraq to make a similar celebration? Wonder why? Perhaps because Iraqi women actually had some limited civil rights pre-Bush attack. Well, those rights will go by the wayside, if one of the newest drafts of the Iraq Constitution is adopted.

The Shiites are pushing a substitution of religious law and religious clerics for civil laws and civil judges. Women would get "equal rights" as long as those rights don't conflict with religious law. Please. This would overturn 50 years of slow (two steps forward, one step back) progress for women in Iraq. Women could lose their right to choose their own husbands, property rights, and other civil protections Westerners take so for granted.

Committee member Khydayer al-Khuzai said Muslims would be free to choose which Islamic sect they want to be judged by under the proposed civil law "We will not force anyone to adopt any sect at all. People are free to choose the sect they see as better or more legitimate. This is implemented in marriage, inheritance and all civil rights," he said. But most of these issues involve more than one person. What happens when two different sects are involved? Whose law prevails? And that begs the whole questions of a separation of church and state.

According to the NYTimes, there are less than 10 women who have joined al-Khuzai at work on this legal document, out of the 71 members of the drafting committee. Well, now. That seems guaranteed to produce a fair document.

So where is the concern about this? Outrage wouldn't be too large an emotion, in my opinion. Do women get sacrificed in the attempt to include all sects and religions in Iraq? Once again, the US has failed to fully reckon with just how difficult it would be to achieve a constitutional result that would protect all citizens yet satisfy all citizens.

Back to The First Lady for a moment. Earlier, regarding the status of women in Iraq, Mrs. Bush said women are expected to play an important role in drafting Iraq’s constitution and she expressed hope that the constitution would “firmly establish the principles of representative and transparent government, democracy and universal human rights for all future generations of Iraqis.” Um. Not. Think you need to give George a little elbow in the ribs again, Laura.

Of course, it didn't work with the whole woman on SCOTUS issue, but it's worth a try. Might save a few women from being stoned for adultery. Seems like a noble and worthy cause for a First Lady to support, don't you think?

Until tomorrow,

Monday, July 25, 2005

And speaking of fear . . .

. . . it's thundering out right now. Storms are a huge blessing for us in drought-stricken Illinois. The ground is cracked, parched. We've all been watering like crazy, but it's hard to keep up when there's no water to be seen. So the gratitude around here is palpable.

Except from Schafer the Dog. Schafer the Dog is not grateful for storms. Schafer the Dog is unrelentingly terrified of storms. How do we know this? How do we divine his innermost feelings, his angst? Could it be the way he tucks his tail completely between his legs when the booms start? Or perhaps he communicates it by the frantic manner in which he, small moose that he is, climbs into the lap of any available person at the first crack of thunder?

It's not terrible tough to figure out THIS animal communication. Schafer the Dog is a wuss and a wimp when it comes to thunder. At the first sign of a storm, usually long before we have a sense of impending doom, he begins to pace. Back and forth. To and fro. Finding me. Finding Annie. Finding Jonathan. Finding Carl. Seeking solace among his packmates and driving us batty in the process.

If it simply rains, no problemo. He doesn't like to get wet. But he's not afraid of wetness, unlike those of us who occasionally have anti-perspirant failure. He just doesn't care for it, and would prefer not to venture out into it. So I can't merely let him out at night, before bed, if it's raining. I must walk him on the leash, in my jammies, until he finally gives in and pees.

So rain is doable. What is not doable is thunder. The poor guy is terrified by it. As I mentioned before, he desperately wants to climb into one of our laps. Into. On top of. Burrow in to. Having a large, nay, extra-large dog climb into your lap while you are typing at the computer is not particularly pleasant. Nor is it conduce to writing a good, solid blog.

If he's not in one of our laps, he is under something. He prefers to climb under one of the computer tables, as they are both in corners, affording maximum hiding coverage. Frankly, we're not sure exactly HOW he fits under one of them. But he manages to squirmy wormy his way there. Then, Schafer lies there, panting. Audibly. Loudly. Lustily. Wetly.

Usually on my feet.

If a storm happens at night, as they often do, woe be to those who plan to sleep. My children prefer to sleep with their doors open. My daughter, in fact, prefer to sleep with her door open and the dog ensconced on her bed. Except when it thunders. Schafer's preferred position during a thunder storm is face-first. Under your pillow. It is not easy to sleep with a dog under your pillow. Particularly not when that dog only stays there for a moment, then paces on your bed, applying his drippy dog breath to your face, then diving under the pillow once more. Repeat all night long--or until the thunder stops.

I've urged the children to follow their parent's example. Sleep with the door closed, for crying out loud. Then one only has to deal with the occasional baying and moaning that occurs as the dog camps out next to the door. But their fear of the dark is apparently bigger than their fear of no sleep, so they continue to deal with the dog during storms.

It seems to be a reverse Napoleon thing, these big dogs. I've never known a small dog who was so easily frightened. They puff out their chests and exude bravado during the scariest of dog-scaring events. But big dogs? They often seem to be big only in size, not in courage. Just like my Schafer dog.

Pray for the storms to end before 11pm, please.

Until tomorrow,

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Thinking about Fear

A couple of nights ago, I was on my way home from an errand, when I stopped off to visit Gus the dog, for whom I was dog-sitting. Or would that be dog-walking? Anywho, I was listening to the radio on the way over, and some station was rerunning "War of the Worlds". When I exited the vehicle, I was surprised to find myself afraid. Looking over my shoulder. Looking up and down the street. Calling out loudly as I entered the house, otherwise empty except for the exuberant Gus.

"War of the Worlds", just a little verbal snippet of it, scared the shorts off me. Thinking about fear.

Tonight, I was reading about the bombing in Egypt. How the bombing occurred in a touristy area, and now tourist are flocking away from Egypt. Out of fear. Thinking about the stiff upper lip being shown northward in London, as citizens continue to go about their business instead of plural bombings and extraordinary shootings in the Tube. Thinking about fear.

When 9/11 happened, my husband and I were a few weeks away from a planned tour of DC. After the initial shock and sorrow of the day, the week, I adamantly refused to live in fear. I even flew a month later to visit a friend, taking advantage of low airfares. But I was equally adamant that both of my children's parents were not going to fly to and spend time in DC so soon. So my husband went alone. Thinking about fear.

Is inflicting fear part of the strategy for these militants, bombers, insurgents? The ability to inspire fear gives the inflicter tremendous power. Or is terrifying people planned because it brings the bad actors sadistic satisfaction? Gut-wrenching fear inflicted dehumanizes further. Or is the fear merely a welcomed side effect, with the destruction of people and places the main goal?

Does it matter? Probably. It might influence our response to terrorism. Responding out of fear makes us less effective, as a rule. It is better to act rather than react. And fear-based reactions tend to be less rational, to say the least. Witness the last election, where Dubya so skillfully manipulated the populace and its fears to four more years in the White House.

In the US, we're getting tired of being afraid. It's yesterday's news, even given its prevalence in today's papers. We're getting tired of our fears being exploited by Dubya. We're just plain tired. And our fear in action isn't solving the problem. Our actions in Iraq haven't stopped terrorism. The war on terrorism appears to be causing increased terrorism.

Our terrorized actions are causing more terror. More fear. We need a leader who acts from true strength, not fear. We need strategies that come from a moral center of love, not hate. We need policies that open doors, not close them. We need to protect ourselves, yes. But there are other ways to protect than war and Gitmo.We don't avoid fear by inflicting fear.

We need other ways. So we can be not afraid.

Until tomorrow,

Friday, July 22, 2005

Going to Hell in the proverbial handbasket

What does that mean, anyway? OK. I know what it means. But whence cometh such an odd phrase? Googled the phrase and no one else seems to know the derivation, either. Apparently, going to heaven in a handbasket happened first, though.

I can't imagine using such transportation for either trip, though. Makes me think of Dorothy coming home from Oz in the balloon. She did come home in a hot-air balloon, didn't she? Out here in the Midwest, everything is hot, so such a mistake would be easy to make right about now.

The local news is hot, too. Last week, we had the
Meeks mini-scandal , where a local pastor and state Senator had a gun pulled on him during a traffic stop. Meeks being black and the cop being white, this quickly became something racial. Short story appears to be that Meeks' car pulled around the cop, the cop pulled Meeks' car over, Meeks got out of the car and was immediately told to "get the bleep back into the car". Meeks identified himself, to no avail, as the police officer than pulled and pointed his gun, acknowledging who Meeks was and telling Meeks to return to the vehicle.

Much whoha in the press, much talk radio talk. Much talk about proper conduct for motorists pulled over by cops. Much talk about proper conduct of cops. In the end, I'm not sure what to make of it all. Local columnist Mary Mitchell said the police officer's behavior toward a black man getting out of the car at night during a routine traffic stop indicated a lack of respect. I don't know.

I'm totally with her on the swearing and waving a gun part. That's swaggery and stupid. Is it common sense among cops that it helps make a traffic stop go well to yell fuck and wave guns? Wouldn't staying calm and respect have a better shot of engendering calm and respectfulness? Clean up your act, police officers.

But ordering Meeks to get back into the car? That's common sense, as far as I'm concerned. City traffic stops are dangerous for cops. Isn't that common knowledge, for those of us who are in the city? I just don't get the attitude that it's ok to hop out of your car, approach the police car, announce you're a state official and pastor, and expect a conversation. Why couldn't Meeks have a conversation from the back seat of the car with his hands placed where the cop could see them, as anyone else would do? Getting out of the car seems a bit swaggery and stupid on Meeks' part, too.

Would this have happened if it were, say, Don Harmon, white state Senator from Oak Park? I dunno. Frankly, I doubt it. I really want to believe that it would come down exactly the same way. But I doubt it. I think there'd be a calmer and much more respectful approach toward the Senator, even if he were directed to return to his vehicle.And how wrong is that? Really wrong.

In one of her
columns, Mary Mitchell said "People of goodwill know that something is terribly wrong in our city when a prominent black man cannot get out of his car and explain himself during a traffic stop." Well, duh. Something IS terribly wrong in our city. We have lots of crime, some of it directed at cops, who risk their lives to protect us. And we have lots of cops, some of whom are dirty and foul and racist, mocking the very oath they take to risk their lives to protect us. All of us.

Why can't the cops clean themselves up? Why don't white people get as angry as African Americans do when racism persists? Why do we tolerate it in a profession that must have trust from the public to protect it?

And why can't we clean ourselves up? Why don't we get as angry as cops do when one of their own is shot? Why do we tolerate crime against the very profession that needs our cooperation in order to do their job?

I don't know.

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Overt covert operations

While we're all strategically busy mulling over the Roberts' nomination, what else is up in the world?

We have the House Republicans
ramming through a renewal of the Patriot (sic) Act. Naturally, Republicans used the latest London bombings as fuel for the fire, as they clearly demonstrate how important it is to remove as many civil rights as possible from folks to keep AMERICA safe. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure that if England had passed a similar law and kept its shores safe from terrorists by being able to spy on library lending patterns, there would have been no bombing.

In our own war against terrorism, the US armed forces fatality (is that supposed to be a less inflammatory word than death?) count is at 1771. If figures have little meaning for you,'s War Room directed me to
this site for a more graphic illustration.

Since we're doing such a superb job fighting terrorism and insurgencies in Iraq, apparently it's time to
move on to Iran. The Bush administration has begun drawing up scenarios for such an attack, with Rumsfeld's participation and approval. There's clear and level-headed thinking. Many experts (including those in the military) feel we don't have enough troups in Iraq. So, let's send some of those much-needed troups to Iran, instead.

And if that doesn't make y'all think, think, and think again, head over to The New Republic Blogs, where Smith College Professor Eric Reeves has been giving a
public course in misery, otherwise known as the history of the Dafur genocide. Three facts to hang on to:
  1. 90 percent of all African villages (as opposed to Arab, which is the racial dividing line in Dafur) in Dafur have been destroyed.
  2. Between 350,00 and 400,000 people have died from all causes related to the genocide in Dafur (violence, malnutrition, and disease).
  3. 6000 people die each month. If the situation there becomes any more insecure or volatile, causing humanitarian efforts to cease (and this is a real possibility), estimates call for 100,000 people to die each month.
OK. Dafur is not being strategically hidden by the Roberts' oh so timely nomination. Maybe it's just hidden by our compassion burnout. Or by our inability to grasp such inhumanity. Our frustration at being able to do so little. Or our responsibility to do so much.

Institutions are busy arguing about whether or not the disaster in Dafur truly qualifies as "genocide". And, while I now understand (thanks to Professor Reeves' lucid explanations) why this is an important argument, semantics are literally killing people over there.

Back to your regularly scheduled interruption. Did you know that John Roberts help Dubya win the
good fight in Florida circa fall 2000? Now, that's a non-partisan activity if there ever was one. If you'd like to register your displeasure at the John Roberts nomination, go here and tell your President what you think.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dad of those darn kids

Hey, did you notice the Roberts kids last night during the SCOTUS announcement? Loved it. First, we get the ubiquitous glance over at the loving wify. And then the mention of the kids--with no kids available for photo/video opportunity. And wify looks a bit, um, strained.

The answer, of course, was given this morning in the papers. Cute photos (visit the photo gallery to see them) of Bush and Roberts--and Roberts' son dancing in front of the oh so unhappy looking wife and primly proper little daughter. Guess someone got that little hellion off camera PDQ.

I would enjoy drawing some corollary from this public behavior. Look, the guy can't even control his own 4 year old. How can we trust him with American Jurisprudence? But I don't have the heart. His wife look so cranky and constipated about little Jack's behavior that I'd hate to heap coals on her head (or his) for being unable to contain him. She might be a Dobson follower. She might be whipping him with a switch, per Dobson's advice for "willful" children.

Frankly, Mr. Roberts probably has very little to do with the raising of his children. Lawyers who practice regularly before the Supreme Court, Judges of the Appeals Courts, these folks don't have a lot of spare time for real life. They spend their days and evenings and weekends in the uplifting, stimulating realm of intellectual rhetoric.

I guess.

Perhaps I'm jealous.
I could have spent my children's childhood in this uplifting, stimulating realm. Maybe my life would have been better, richer, fuller, for the constant challenge of formulating answers to meaningful arguments.

Oh. I
have spent my children's childhood in this uplifting, stimulating realm constantly formulating answers to meaningful arguments. Only, I'm answer my children's arguments, rather than some legal peer.

Too bad no one's paying me for those answers. :-) Then I could afford a mini-van, thus distancing myself from said stimulating realm.

But I digress.

I'm not happy about the Roberts nomination. But I wouldn't be happy about anyone Bush nominated. There really aren't too many lesser evils. Just evil lessers. I'm sure Bush has thoroughly vetted any nominee with his non-existent litmus test so that anyone he puts forward will make every effort to dump Roe v. Wade, thus satiating his salivating extremist right-wing supporters.

The Democrats will most likely give in, barring some unforeseen Anita Hill-like revelations. Something to pray for, I guess. And I take some small solace from this analysis, which makes Roberts seem not quite such an evil lesser.

The real evil lesser will come when Rehnquist resigns. Bush will truly try to leave his mark on the Court then, nominating someone far more to the right. I hope we Democrats are ready.

Until tomorrow,

Sunday, July 17, 2005

What Price Motherhood Afresh

How many more have to suffer and be killed? How many more innocents must die? Usually, the casualty numbers coming out of Iraq fly by me in an intellectual swoop. I look. I cluck. I sometimes get mad for a few moments, take the President's name in vain. Then I move on, eat my oatmeal, listen to my daughter play the piano, remind my son to take his meds.

But a report out of Iraq stopped me cold this afternoon. Yet another suicide bombing. Yet more innocents (whatever that judging phrase actually means) killed. And this sentence. "Reports say parents threw children out of burning houses to save them."

This is what we have come to. This is what we, in our meddling and muddling, have abetted. Children being thrown out of their burning homes by their parents to save them. This is the liberation of Iraq? This misbegotten war against a people and culture about which we in the West understand precious little has produced little but grief and madness. We are saving no one. We are killing many. And we are, by our very presence and actions, inciting the killings of oh so many more.

Might is not going to make right in this part of the world. Squashing insurgencies isn't as simple as squashing a mosquito. When you squash the mosquito, she dies. When you squash the insurgent, she dies. But her death inspires 10 more to die in her name. Violence clearly begets violence in the Middle East. Vengeance is sought over and over again. Everyone wants the last word, no one wants to lose face.

Many cliches in that last paragraph. I wonder if that's the only way we Americans can begin to understand the world of the Islamic extremists. What I understand is that I don't understand. I cannot begin to comprehend a life view that embraces martyrdom. Sacrifice is hardly America's middle name these days--and certainly not mine. Nor is sacrifice viewed as particularly admirable here. Seems a bit queer to most of us, truthfully. Over the top. A bit foolish, really. Why would you do something for nothing?

How can our military have been so ignorant (or were they just plain stupid?) as to hope that we could come in and squash these people, given their eagerness to sacrifice for their beliefs? And how many people--civilians, insurgents, and our own soldiers--have been sacrificed to that ignorance?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Americans do understand sacrifice. As they are having sacrifice forced upon them. (Of course, those who are offering the sacrifice are not the same as those who are actually sacrificing.) And so we come back to the mothers. And fathers. They are sacrificing. Sacrificing their middle to lower class American soldier sons and daughters. Sacrificing their Iraqi civilian families whose families are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sacrificing all of our children, young and old. For what?

For what? I do not know.

Until tomorrow,

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mainstream values

"My nominee will be a fair-minded individual who represents the mainstream of American law and American values." Thus spake someone's President, GWB, in today's radio address on his potential nominees for SCOTUS. I am simply dying to know: what, exactly, are mainstream values?

Whenever I want to know anything, I google it. What surprised me most was that there are a million pages referring to "mainstream values". But hardly any of them do more than referencing the phrase. Mainstream values are cited (yea, lauded) over and over, by both conservatives and liberals, without defining what goes into those values--and what doesn't.

Mainstream values always seems a code phrase, to me. For conservatives, we're talking god, guns, and gays (and don't forget those damn abortions). For liberals, there doesn't seem to be a neat and easy catch-phrase. Maybe that's part of our problem. We don't have easily focused on issues we're against--no clarity of anti.

I know this goes against the current political flow. Democrats are talking about how important it is to be active, not reactive. How we need to define ourselves positively, rather than define ourselves against what Republicans believe. But it seems easier to arouse folks on the anti-issues rather than the pro-issues. People are more likely to get active and excited when they feel something is going to be taken away from them.

I don't know. I'm a little fuzzy today. Really probably shouldn't roller ski for 45 minutes in the 90 degree heat. Ahem.

My point--and I do have one--is that GWB is positioning himself at the mainstream once again. And once again, someone has got to point out that his mainstream ain't my mainstream. Focusing on judicial philosophy alone, his mainstream gives me the heebee jeebees. Judges who want to overturn the democratic process give me the heebee jeebees. Judges who think there is some magic in turning back the clock to the day the Constitution was written so we can best interpret the Founders intention give me the heebee jeebees.

The concept of liberal judges being activist judges yet conservative judges who consistently overrule legislation passed by representative governments is nutso thinking. Reminds me of people who say they take the Bible literally, yet don't wash feet. Did you know that Jesus told us to wash people's feet more than any other exhortation?

It's all about picking and choosing--then copping to it. We all pick and choose. Let me admire you. Admit you do so. Admit you read the Bible and are a Christian but choose not to follow the admonitions against women preaching or avoiding pork. Admit you are a liberal but you have big problems with affirmative action. Admit you are a Jew but feel Israel is fucking up the Middle East.

Admit you pick and choose, that you are not consistent. Because none of us are. It's the human condition. Might as well embrace it.

Guess I wandered a bit from my original topic. But maybe not. Wish GWB could admit he and his party have harped on values ad nauseum yet doesn't have many of his own he actually adheres to. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Friday, July 15, 2005

What price motherhood?

Saw a depressing little bit of social science today. Mother Jones gave a little blog report today on a sociology experiment conducted at Cornell demonstrating that women whose resumes gave subtle signals of motherhood in their background (maybe listed volunteer for the PTA or something) were rated

  • less competent
  • less suitable for hire, promotion or management training
  • deserved lower salaries
At the same time, mothers were held to higher standards of performance and punctuality. Men, on the other hand, were not only NOT penalized but benefited from being parents.

The underlying assumptions here completely elude me. Women who parent become less competent at their jobs because they are parents but men become more competent? Women who parent deserve lesser salaries because they are parents but men deserve higher salaries?

And we think feminism is no longer needed? Discrimination is even more dangerous than it was 30 years ago. Because it is so hidden, so subtle. Society rarely makes
comments of a discriminatory or demeaning nature in public. Nope. We save our cracks for those special private moments. White folks chatting with neighbors on the street who lower their voices when they talk about something race related. Men in the board room, discussing soto voce the disadvantages of hiring women who have snotty nosed kids whose needs always seem to interfere with business.

Seems to me folks who juggle parenting and paid employment have an opportunity to become more competent, not less. Employed parents who do well at both of their jobs learn to focus on the task at hand, be that a snotty nosed child or a brief due yesterday. They polish time-management skills, achieving more in less time. Because they
have less time.

A single childless male (or female) has all the time in the world to pull a weekend to finish up that proposal. Does he actually NEED all day Saturday? Could he perhaps have accomplished his work in less time had he needed to? Did he lollygag all week? Was he less organized because he had no reason to be more organized?

Last time I check, the world needed mothers. And fathers. Why do we persist in punishing them? Why do we, as a society, accept either subtle or blatant discrimination against employed mothers?

Why, might you ask, do I give a rat's ass? Seeing as how I am
just a housewife, and so not terribly affected by this discrimination. Hmm. Guess because it is, at its essence, unfair. Novel idea, fairness. Perhaps it's just my intrinsically unselfish nature, always caring about how things affect others, even if they are not issues pour moi.

Or, perhaps, far more likely, I am a woman and I do not appreciate other women being treated like fourth class citizens, whether or not I share their life situations. Maybe I am deeply offended by the notion of devaluing women simply because of their procreational situations. Maybe I find it incredibly disturbing that women are still being treated as a class rather than as individuals. Maybe I find it demeaning and demoralizing to think of my sisters who are employed mothers doing a double shift each day, yet being paid far less than their partners or spouses--who still generally only work one shift.

Maybe you should give a rat's ass about this, too. Maybe, someday, this will be you we are talking about. Or your wife. Or your daughter.

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, July 14, 2005

No scooting out of SCOTUS for Rehnquist?

Huh. What's with Rehnquist, anyway? He's sounding darn testy these days, as he announced his non-announcement today that he's not going to retire. Not now. His comment last week (when asked if retirement was imminent)? "That's for me to know and for you to find out." Guess he's not enjoying the limelight from the Retirement Watch.

I'm all for him staying on the Court at this point. The worst case scenario, from a progressive, liberal standpoint, is having both Rehnquist and O'Connor resign at the same time. Then Bush gets an excuse to toss one of his ultra-right wing conservative fruitcakes out as a worthy replacement for Rehnquist. Tit for tat, like for like.

As it is, liberals are supposed to make happy about Alberto Gonzales being considered evil and verboten by the far right Republicans. We're supposed to consider ole Alberto a positive coup if he manages to get past the right to the Court. Yikes, yikes, yikes. Mr. Ignore the Geneva Convention is my best choice? That's a nightmare scenario in my book, not something to cheer about or be even vaguely satisfied with.

Let's contemplate something more cheerful, shall we? The husband and I just got back from a fabulous concert by my favorite group, Chanticleer. 12 part. All male, right down (or would that be up) to the sopranos. They sing like angels, having a vast repertoire with something everyone can enjoy--from spirituals to plainchant to jazz to everything in between. We hear them whenever they're here in Chicago (twice a year, when we're lucky). If you haven't heard them, you should!

Off to sleep, perchance to dream of liberal SCOTUS nominees and an articulate, clear-thinking and speaking Democratic presidential nominee who will expose the Republican smushy rhetoric for the pap and pabulum that it is . . . .

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Meanwhile . . .

. . . while the frenzy is focused on Rove, havoc is wrecked in others areas. A military report on Gitmo itemizes the kind of treatment prisoners can expect to receive from the land of the free, home of the brave. Mohamed al-Qahtani, said to be the 20th hijacker, was forced to wear a leash and perform dog tricks, menaced by a dog, told he was a homosexual and forced to dance with a male interrogator, told his female relatives were whores, and regularly subject to 20 hour long interrogations for a two month period.

But this isn't torture, it was interrogation sanctioned by the Pentagon and deemed "safe, secure and humane" by the Air Force investigator making the report.

Hello? Hello? What planet do I live on? Apparently, I'm occupying a totally different ethical space or something. Ladies and gentlemen, I get that interrogation isn't supposed to be a tea party. I'm not expecting kid gloves and cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. But it seems to me that there must be other effective forms of interrogation that don't involve degradation. Other forms that don't stoop to the level at which our government believes these "enemy combatants" grovel. Shouldn't we be better than them?

That's what really sucker punches me in the gut here, in the whole torture Gitmo Abu Ghraib mess. Once again, the US has come to stand for something other than freedom and courage and the Bill of Rights. Once again, the US is taking the moral low ground.

Maybe I'm expecting too much. After all, this is the country where the Runaway Bride got more press coverage than Dafur. Where we care more about Jen's pain over Brad and Angelina than Mukhtaran Bibi's pain from her gang rape and subsequent mistreatment by the Pakistani government.

Between the war and the Gitmo/torture/Abu Ghraib crap and Rove and the absurd Republican talking points designed to deflect substantive discussion of Rove's felonious behavior, I'm feeling a bit worn down tonight. Can you tell?

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Random Rove Rumbles

This whole Karl Rove scandal? Well, it couldn't happen to a nicer administration. Let's see. We've got a Press Secretary eating his words numerous times in one week. We've got Rove's lawyer engaging in Weasel Speak. Wife, not Plame? Please. We've got a White House who now must consider eating its words or firing its fav hatchet man.

It did my little heart good to hear reporters at McClellan's briefing really push hard Monday. Showed some guts we haven't seen in a while. Now, if only the American people will get just as pissed off, we might make some progress in these here parts.

The Bushies have been lying to us since 9/11. Why has it taken us so long to get angry? We're going to war because of WMD. Ooops. Nope. Got that one wrong. Bush played the public so well, though, that it didn't seem to matter that we went to war for a bogus reason to a majority of the voters . He's a good ole guy who will keep us safe, unlike that snooty Kerry guy, who doesn't have the guts to fight back when someone smears his Vietnam war record.

There's so much happening right now in political America. And so much of it seems to me to be about courage--or a lack thereof. The media has been cowed by Bush et al, refusing to be true journalist until recently. Perhaps the proverbial straw was the Downing Street Memo. Or perhaps Rove now. Maybe folks have been inspired by the outing of Deep Throat.

Whatever the cause, I'm grateful for the glimmer of a return to journalism. Fantastic op-ed column on this very topic in the Trib today. Here's my favorite quote. In talking about the media's focus on torture at Gitmo, Charles Madigan says " Truth is no defense. It's viewed as unpatriotic. Maybe as liberal. But it's not. It's just journalism." Sage words, in the conservative Tribune, of all places!

Oh, here's a new little McClellan tidbit. The White House decided two years ago that it wouldn't comment on Plame et al? So, what have all of his statements been about in the past few months? And what about the various Bush statements after that supposed decision? Please. And what's with the newest spin doctor crapola out of DC, those snappy talking points Republicans are supposed to refer to when talking to us liberals? Redirect and obfuscate. Smoke and mirrors. Whatever you do, don't discuss the fact that all appearances indicate Karl Rove broke the law and revealed information regarding national security.

Let's spend billions of dollars protecting America by killing people in Iraq. Then, let's flout laws designed to uphold national security. Bush Logic 101.

Until tomorrow,

Monday, July 11, 2005

Ball prints

Been out of town, visiting relatives for a few. And so much has been happening while I was gone that I hardly know where to start. Karl Rove/Judith Miller? The London bombings? Tour de France? So much to say, so little time in which to say it.

What I should be doing right now, instead of write now, is painting. My living room/music room needs a new coat. It's been 13 years since we moved into this decrepit old house, er historical and charmingly dilapidated home. This is the last set of rooms left to be painted--before the cycle starts again, of course. Mainly, I want to paint the rooms because they badly need a wall washing. And I'd rather paint than wash walls.

Short sighted, you say? Ha. You haven't seen my walls. The most scenic portion of my walls is (or would that be "are"?) my ball prints. Some people have finger prints on their walls. They have small children. Or perhaps big children who enjoy ritualistically running their fingers along the walls. I have those, too. But mostly what I have are ball prints. From my dog.

Actually, my dog doesn't exactly place the ball prints on to the walls. I guess my family does that. When throwing the ball for the dog. In the house. The wet ball that he has continually slobbered on over and over, salivating continuously as the ball is permanently ensconced in his great drippy maw. You see, Schafer the dog is a big baby. A very large, furry, intense dog infant. And his ball is similar in function to a baby's pacifier. Really, this could be one of those old SAT analogy questions. Pacifier is to baby as ball is to blank. The blank being filled in as "Schafer".

So, he's always got a ball in his mouth. Or wants a ball in his mouth. In fact, he can fit three (yes, 3) tennis balls in his mouth. He is part Doberman, after all, and has a rather large one. One of the most humorously annoying activities he partakes in involves finding three balls, lying on the ground, and trying to keep them all in his mouth so that I can't take them from him.

Guess you'd have to see him, frantically juggling them from mouth to paw to mouth, to get the full maniacal, and so humorous, effect. :-)

He begs incessantly for someone to throw said ball(s) for him. Out of the house, of course. And in the house. Which is where those ball prints come in. The whole game seems pretty simple, doesn't it? Throw the ball. Catch the ball. Drop the ball. Repeat. No ball prints involved. But some people in my home like to make it a bit more complicated. Vary the angle of return for the dog, keeping him guessing as to just how to catch, fetch, retrieve. If one whips the wet, dirty, slobbered upon ball against the wall, not only does it create a fetching (pun intended) print on the faintly maize background, but it toughens the game for the dog.

The dog then careens frenziedly from wall to wall, as he does not have the intellectual capability to project an angle and thus determine exactly where the ball will land. Hell, I don't have that capability, either, come to think of it. Guess that's why I'm not so great at tennis or moving large objects in small spaces without breaking holes into walls.

Poor guy. Guess he didn't know he needed to pay attention in canine geometry at doggie school. In fact, I'm sure we didn't get to canine geometry at his doggie school before he was ejected for his constant yapping. Canine geometry is the study of angles as they relate to canines, of course. For instance, what would be the shortest distance between Schafer (S) and plum pit (P), such that it avoids Mom's hand (M) grabbing said plum pit (P) prior to Schafer (S) grabbing it? Or just at what angle is the smallest possible space creates into which a dog's snout can fit into the door behind which hides the garbage can such that said dog can grab the foulest and most disgusting piece of garbage out of said garbage can?

The possibilities are simply limitless.

I've digressed, I'm sure. I think the point was that my walls are dirty, and a bit chipped, and in desperate need of a new paint job. Which I've not gotten to because I've been busy doing, um, stuff. Like writing. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yawn, fireworks, and softball

Guess all that patriotism plumb tuckered me out. I'm sleepy today, and feel I have little to say. But is that stopping me from blogging? Nah.

The Oak Park fireworks were beautiful. We had a lovely time last evening, sitting out along the perimeter of the high school, waiting for the sparks to begin. Lots of chatting across the street as neighbors and friends exchanged greetings.

Just as the fireworks were about to begin, a 5 year old boy and his family parked themselves behind us. We were then treated to his non-stop breathless narration of the fireworks. I'm sure many would have been annoyed by it, but I was moved by his endless enthusiasm. Would that I have half the enthusiasm for life of a 5 year old.

There are so many different flavors of fireworks. I particularly enjoyed the high up ones that burst, then end with a comet tail of color. Then there were the screaming mimis (low on my scale of enjoyment), the Christmas tree light poppers, and the falling rain glitter. Ah. 25 minutes of beauty was quite satiating.

This evening's festivities are a bit more mundane. Annie's softball team is having its season-ending party. I'm looking forward to this, too. She's had a wonderful season. Oldest girl on the team, which is a fun and unusual role for her, June birthday girl that she is. She moves on the ballfield with an ease and grace that comes from talent and hard work combined. It was a pleasure to watch her play.

It was also a pleasure to watch her emotionally mature in the past few months. A fell into a batting slump early on, and did her usual Annie routine: she beat herself up, got very angry, announced she's a terrible player, and continued to slump. But we spent a lot of time talking about the effects of her behavior. I kept asking her, "Is being hard on yourself helping you play any better?" and "What would help you play better?"

After a week or so, there was one of those oh so encouraging light-bulb moments when she truly got it. She lightened up. We went out and wore my barely adequate pitching arm out. And she climbed out of her slump fairly quickly.

Because she's such a perfectionist, I know this is a lesson that she'll learn and relearn. But I was so glad that the light turned on for her this year, however briefly. And glad, too, for this team. She's made a really good friend this year, one who she feels is just like her: a sporty and fun girl, not incredibly into boys and clothes.

It's so hard to be a girl in middle school. I wouldn't relive those years for a million dollars.

Off to get ready.

Until tomorrow,

Monday, July 04, 2005

Let Freedom Ring

It's the Fourth. The red, white, and blue parade just passed by around the corner from my house. Many bike riders festooned with the colors, voluminous quantities of star spangled banners flying, politicians waving.

I am not a patriot, as the definitional patriot goes. I love my country, in that I love the land. I am devoted to the precepts under which the United States was founded. I don't necessarily support all of its authority and interests. Particularly when it abuses its authority or its interests seem more aligned with the current governing party rather than the People of the United States.

The knee-jerk and exclusionary patriotism of the Republican party is troubling, to say that least. You are only a patriot in 2005 if you support the War. You are only a patriot in 2005 if you support the President. Patriotism comes in only one stripe these days: Republicanism.

Tough. Today, it's my blog and I get to wave the flag my way.

Let freedom ring. The America I love took form under a remarkable Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (sic) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. " What a fantastical notion on which to found a government.

Let freedom ring. The America I love lives under a remarkably sturdy Constitution that has serviced us well lo these hundreds of year. A Constitution that forms a government type that we can, in theory, be proud of. A Constitution that divides power into three branches, thus keeping power balanced and out of one person or parties hands.

Let freedom ring. The America I love lives under a Bill of Rights that separates church from state so that we can all worship (or not) freely, without fear of governmental influence or interference. A Bill of Rights that protects the innocent and the guilty. A Bill of Rights that supports a Free Press and my right to protest against the government. A Bill of Rights that ended slavery and began equal rights for all, regardless of color or gender.

Let freedom ring. The America I love wants freedom for all nations. It would not impose freedom through the violent "liberations" of war. It would not inflict freedom though the imposition of a governmental form that is essentially Western in nature on an Eastern country whose culture of which we know squat.

Let freedom ring. The America I love holds itself to the highest possible standard when dealing with prisoners of war and possible (even probable) terrorists. We would exceed Geneva Convention guidelines on torture. We would closely follow our own Constitution and Bill of Rights as we pursue justice.

Let freedom ring. The America I love cares deeply for others. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." We do not turn our backs on Dafur, Zimbabwe. We do not turn our backs on the West side of Chicago, LA, Washington D.C. We do not turn our backs on the elderly and take away their Social Security, the sick and provide them with no health care, the workers and gut their pension plans.

Let freedom ring. The America I love cherishes its natural beauty. "Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. For purple mountains majesties above the fruited plain." We create National Parks. We preserve history. We do not gut forests, take over countries to feed our gas-guzzlers. We do not avoid joining the G8 Countries in a Kyoto-like global warming pact. We lead the world in conservation and preservation, not lead the world in destruction and selfishness.

Let freedom ring. The America I love is better than this current government. The America I love will rise up in 2008 and demand a moral leader. One who understands that morality is not the sole province of Conservative Christianity. One who understands and honors the principles under which our great nation was founded. One of whom I can be proud.

Until tomorrow,

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The weather

It's such a banal topic, the weather. It's what you talk about when you have nothing else to say. Or when you want to avoid any semblance of real conversation, intimacy. Yet weather is integral to our lives. Weather fills me with joy. Melancholy. Lightness of being. Weather kills people, wrecks entire nations, blights crops, kisses small children on the chubby cheek.

So I'm not going to apologize one bit for talking about the weather today. My god, it is absolutely beautiful today. Perfect day. The sky is full blue, a deep bowl of cobalt glass. A few wispy clouds float by, serving only to emphasize the azure ceiling. And it is cool. There is a palpable sigh of relief in the air, a collective release of the entire Midwest, that it is no longer 90 degrees.

I've been sitting outside this afternoon, reading Kathy Reich's newest, Cross Bones. My fingers are just the least bit chilled. If my husband were here, he'd rejoice in my slapping them across the back of his neck. He loves a cool touch. There's a soft breeze, tickling the cottonwood leaves, causing a small rustle amidst the constant chirp of the cardinal mama in my yard. I can almost forget I live one block from a firehouse, with the incessant sirens that blare at all hours of the day and night . . . .

Schafer the dog is lying next to me, looking cat-like in his phoenixness. His eyes are barely open, his silky brown and black fur reflects the sunlight. He looks deeply content. Or as content as he can be without a ball in his mouth.

I eavesdrop on my neighbors. My north neighbors toss conversation about the Wimbledon women's final. My south neighbors talk about their afternoon activities. The never-ending watering continues on both sides. I'll join them shortly, as we battle the drought, trying to keep our plants alive.

Further down the block, children call and cry and laugh and shriek at one another. Little Jonathan (whose sobriquet derives from my son being older and bigger but is now inaccurate as he's quite a big guy, himself) is riding his bike in the alley, as he's done ever since he was little Jonathan. He looks pleased.

Cars pass out front. But I imagine that they are slower than usual, and fewer. I imagine that it is a summer afternoon and that most of the world is sitting in their back 40 (be that inches, feet, yards, or acres), breathing in the sunshine and fresh air. I wish it were so. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Friday, July 01, 2005

Sandra Day O'Connor

A touch of a surprise, perhaps, that O'Connor was the first to resign. But a scary surprise for us liberals, given O'Connor's reliability in the swing department. She appeared to single-handedly keep the Supremes from tilting so far to the right as to tip right over.

Yet, she IS a conservative. But the Republican war is already on to cast O'Connor as a "moderate". Please. "Moderate Conservative"? Maybe. The Politican Animal quoted someone calling her a "Reagan Moderate". Maybe. I think Kevin Drum is dead on--conservatives are framing O'Connor as a moderate so they can push for a hard right liner.


The nation will get dragged through the whole filibuster issue once again. How short-sighted can one political party be, to give up such a powerful tool? Or are they far-sighted, since they believe they are omnipotent and will never leave leadership again? My 17 yr old is convinced that Bush wants to take over the world, starting with US. Maybe he's paranoid. Or maybe he's right.

And who are the potential candidates for disaster? Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; U.S. Appeals Court judges J. Harvie Wilkinson, J. Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Emilio Garza, Edith Jones and Edith Brown Clement; and Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court.

Gonzales, Mr. Suspend the Geneva Convention so we can torture people? John Roberts, Mr. the Endangered Species Act is unconstitutional? McConnell, Mr. Anti-Abortion? Brown, Ms. I Don't need No Stinking Precedent and My Views are More Important than the Constitution?

Go research all these guys. Make your day. Personally, I'm having trouble breathing.

The Right is asking its supporters to prayer for Bush. I'm praying too, honey. Praying that the Left has the backbone, the moral fibre, the fortitude, the breasts (not balls), to stand up and demand a truly balanced Supreme Court.

Until tomorrow,